Apple Stole My Music. No, Seriously – An Exploration of Ethics and Data Backup

Posted on Posted in Featured, The Cutting Edge

 

Headphones on Laptop Computer. Online Music Listening. Music Concept.
Headphones on Laptop Computer. Online Music Listening. Music Concept.

“The software is functioning as intended,” said Amber. “Wait,” I asked, “so it’s supposed to delete my personal files from my internal hard drive without asking my permission?” “Yes,” she replied. …

Source: Apple Stole My Music. No, Seriously. | vellumatlanta

A tad outside of our usual fare, today we explore the story of someone who had their own, original musical compositions harvested and deleted by Apple. Not only did they have their own original music harvested and deleted, but Apple took rare mix versions of certain songs, deleted them, and “matched” them with the common versions in their own database to serve back. Luckily, they had a data backup, but not all afflicted users do.

While Seize My Future completely stands 100% behind the development of futuristic, more advanced technology, this is a case in point for the argument that “fancier” technology doesn’t necessarily mean “more advanced”. It also serves to demonstrate the ethical responsibilities that companies should have to their customers, and how customers may wish to be wary of companies that refuse to have those ethical responsibilities. In addition,it demonstrates just how important it is to do data backups.

For those confused as to how this could possibly come about (or may mistakenly believe themselves to be invulnerable to this), let’s take a look at Apple’s own user agreement:

“iCloud Music Library is turned on automatically when you set up your Apple Music Subscription…When your Apple Music Subscription term ends, you will lose access to any songs stored in your iCloud Music Library.

Middle finger

Apple’s Terms of Use, Abridged.

…YOU EXPRESSLY AGREE THAT YOUR USE OF, OR INABILITY TO USE, THE APPLE MUSIC SERVICE IS AT YOUR SOLE RISK.THE APPLE MUSIC SERVICE AND ALL PRODUCTS AND SERVICES DELIVERED TO YOU THROUGH THE APPLE MUSIC SERVICE ARE (EXCEPT AS EXPRESSLY STATED BY APPLE) PROVIDED “AS IS” AND “AS AVAILABLE” FOR YOUR USE, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED.

…IN NO CASE SHALL APPLE, ITS DIRECTORS, OFFICERS, EMPLOYEES, AFFILIATES, AGENTS, CONTRACTORS, OR LICENSORS BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, PUNITIVE, SPECIAL, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES ARISING FROM YOUR USE OF THE APPLE MUSIC SERVICE OR FOR ANY OTHER CLAIM RELATED IN ANY WAY TO YOUR USE OF THE APPLE MUSIC SERVICE, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, ANY ERRORS OR OMISSIONS IN ANY CONTENT OR APPLE MUSIC PRODUCTS, OR ANY LOSS OR DAMAGE OF ANY KIND INCURRED AS A RESULT OF THE USE OF ANY CONTENT OR APPLE MUSIC PRODUCTS POSTED, TRANSMITTED, OR OTHERWISE MADE AVAILABLE VIA THE APPLE MUSIC SERVICE, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THEIR POSSIBILITY.”

In other words:

  1. Utilizing this cloud service is automatic for an Apple Music subscription.
  2. This cloud service (which users may not even be aware of) is explicitly used at your own risk.
  3. Ultimately meaning that no matter what happens to your computer, files, music, or other property, Apple has absolutely zero responsibility to you.

In addition, this means that once Apple Music scans your music library, harvests your songs, and deletes them from your computer, you’re directly dependent upon Apple for access to that music. If you decide to cancel your Apple Music subscription, you’d better have a backup of that music (not the pre-existing deleted files from your computer, mind you), or you will have completely lost access to all your previously, independently purchased music. Also, because you scrolled to the bottom of the agreement, clicked “agree” without reading, you’re completely without any form of recourse for this loss.

So, what can be done? Legally, Apple is in the clear. They created a license agreement that the user (and likely some of you) signed without thought, trusting in the company to do right by you. Unfortunately, that trust has been breached. The number of “user agreements” that the average person is subject to means that it’s simply unreasonable for anyone to read the entirety of all user agreements they encounter. Even I, as someone that reads the entirety of all financial contracts I sign, don’t look at the entirety of the user agreements I’m subject to. I’ll fully admit to clicking past many. If I were more into Apple products, this could have been me.

So, what can a person do to protect themselves from predatory actions from companies like this? The absolute best, number one method to protect yourself is to back up your data. Operating systems can be restored, and programs can be reinstalled. The most catastrophic thing a person can lose on their computer is their data – their pictures, music, tax documents, receipts, etc. How do you do an efficient data backup?

  1. Utilize your operating system’s backup features to store a data backup on your computer itself. For Windows, that’s the Update and Security tab of Settings or Backup and Restore for Windows 7 and prior. For Mac, that’s Time Machine.
  2. Schedule backups on a repeating basis. Your data is constantly changing, and having only your tax documents from two years prior isn’t going to do you very much good.
  3. Invest in a good external hard drive, and store your backups on there. CDs are a good intermediate option, but as they’re prone to scratching, I would strongly recommend an external hard drive. USB drives are good for keeping a few backups around, but don’t match the storage capacity of external hard drives.
  4. Learn how to encrypt your files, folders, and backups on your respective operating system. For Windows and for Mac.
  5. Upload your encrypted data backups to the cloud. For best results, don’t only use one service for this.

Apple may not be answerable for this breach of trust, but that doesn’t mean that you need to end up the same way as the author of the linked article.

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